Cable lost 500,000+ subscribers in Q3, thanks to the Web

By on November 5, 2010, 6:30 PM
Last quarter was the first time ever that US pay-for TV subscription rates declined, and in Q3 2010, cable lost over 518,300 subscribers in total, according to GigaOm. Four of the five biggest cable companies lost customers: Comcast had more than half of the losses at 275,000, Time Warner took a 155,000 subscriber hit, Charter Communications lost 63,800, and Cablevision waved goodbye to 24,500 customers. The third largest cable provider, Cox Communications, is privately held and therefore doesn't have to announce its subscriber numbers publicly. The number is thus likely even bigger if we could include Cox plus all the smaller cable companies.

Now, we normally wouldn't cover cable TV news, but more than half a million users ditching their cable companies is significant. The reason for such staggering losses is simple: the Internet is taking over. Cable is falling on the wayside as services like Netflix and Hulu continue to expand their offerings.

Cable companies are blaming the poor numbers on the weak economy but instead of embracing the Web, they're merely raising prices for remaining customers. Talk about digging yourself into a hole. In fact, Comcast admitted that its average customer revenue rose by 10 percent year over year to $136 per month. Charter's similarly jumped by nine percent to $126 monthly fee. Cablevision's price didn't increase, but monthly revenue per customer still amounted to a huge $149 per month.

User Comments: 50

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taea00 said:

What with Hulu, Netflix, and broadcasters putting all of their shows directly on the web, I'm thinking about ditching my cable too. I pay $50 for cable in a package deal and there's never anything on. I find myself watching things I can easily get online. The only thing nice is the DVR which allows me to record those shows I can't get easily streaming.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

This is true, between cable, internet and phone service all from comcast we really only use the internet.

tonylukac said:

Then don't forget the analog to digital conversion. We get free over the air broadcasts instead of having an expensive standalone internet connection to stream. My dry loop dsl is $20 a month, and I'm told the slowest standalone comcast internet is $70 a month in my neighborhood.

poertner_1274 poertner_1274, secroF laicepS topShceT, said:

They just lost another customer yesterday. I have hated Charter for quite some time. Although I didn't drop everything I just switched to DirecTV.

mccartercar said:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls.

Step right up and see the greatest show on earth.

Watch as the almighty power of the people wielding the weapon of technology to defeat the cumbersome giants.

ZipZpZowie said:

Well what do you expect? It's pretty easy to watch tv shows on a web site. Unfortunately I've noticed that some are not carring the whole show anymore and are only showing short clips.

KG363 KG363 said:

I ditched Comcast last year... for AT&T Uverse. I <3 ATT Uverse

Guest said:

Not surprising, internet is going to be the way of TV entertainment in the near future. I don't watch much TV but there's a few shows I do like on certain channels. If I can pick my channels individually instead of a package then I would still be a cable subscriber. I don't like paying for a package with a bunch of useless channels I don't watch, so instead I turn to the internet to download my favorite show, paying for bandwidth (rapidshare) turns out to be much much cheaper than cable for I the things I want to watch.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

When you consider how much crap an average cable viewer is subsiding its ridiculous. I say make it all a la carte. I'll subscribe to History Channel and a few more, and occasionally pay to watch a sport event or something else. I'd only watch about 10 channels out of the 200 offered.

Timonius Timonius said:

Ditched Cable about 10 years ago. Never going back to that vomit.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

I haven't had cable in 5 years as I got tired of paying a lot for very little content. The kicker is I'd actually be quite happy to pay $15 - $20 a month to get the shows I actually want.

Scshadow said:

Well, they never lost me. I have never and will never buy cable. Hulu is fine for me.

Guest said:

I think the thing is clear and simple. The internet is the only massive communication medium where you can share, express, search, watch, hear, read and download what you want and not what others want. That's the big difference and that's why the internet ****ing rules, no more sheeps.

speeedy6 said:

And I was one of them. I got an antenna so now I get a few channels over the air in HD for free and anything else I go online for.

Still lacking in the sports area though. Any suggestions on a good place to watch sports online, specifically hockey live????

hassaan said:

I think they should go to a more hulu or youtube type service. Or better yet take up google tv. But I would like to be able to play any show whenever I want. Of course after it has aired.

sMILEY4ever said:

Is it really the Web? I think not. Piracy? Maybe. Anything else? Maybe.

Puiu Puiu said:

over 100$ for cable? that's just wrong. i can get cable+internet(5+mpbs)+phone for about 15$. and 20mps internet connections are dirt cheap: 15-20$. i feel so lucky right now

anguis said:

As soon as there is some COMPLETE sports package available online, I must retain my cable subscription. I rarely watch TV, but when I do, 95% of the time it is sports.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ironically, I'm a cable subscriber, but only for internet - and I use Hulu, Netflix, etc. for my media. I honestly think I'm probably the ideal future consumer for cable, but right now it's just way too overpriced. I'm only using it because my other options in this area suck. I had AT&T DSL, and it was flaky and slow in this area (which is metropolitan, but a relatively new residential region). My only option to get decent streaming was cable, unfortunately. I'm paying double what I paid for DSL, but getting 4 times the speed, so I guess I can't complain too much! Still, there's no way I'd drop an extra $50 or more a month for the analog or digital cable options that I can add on. And for phone, I've used Skype for years, with no issues (provided my internet stays up).

dkbrannan said:

Puiu I wish I was in your state! I cant get anything faster than 4mbs and thats even throttled through a 'phone line'! BS that my iSP is really the only option I have for faster speeds. TV I have more than 1 and have been considering the swap. I need my time away from a PC / Notebook / Phone internet and I am vacaying by TV channels of entertainment on demand.

dkbrannan said:

Puiu I wish I was in your state! I cant get anything faster than 4mbs and thats even throttled through a 'phone line'! BS that my iSP is really the only option I have for faster speeds. TV I have more than 1 and have been considering the swap. I need my time away from a PC / Notebook / Phone internet and I am vacaying by TV channels of entertainment on demand.

compu4 said:

When will they learn? Paying $50+ per month for a cable package simply isn't reasonable, especially when you can watch most of the shows from major networks online for free.

acc202121 said:

I never subscribed to cable, never saw the value in it, especially when in Australia you get about 14 free to air HD Tv channels. But am not surprised and am sure this is only the beginning. The whole world is going global and internet is the driver, so the localized broadcasting companies need to change with times.

Guest said:

Cable is the Evkil vomit spew of the Devils wayward daughter! or some such opinion.

What I don't understand is why the cable company's allow something like HuLu to show the shows for free? Or even to let Hulu plus undercut them? If internet is the way of the future, then you'd think the cable company's would do everything to strangle it (to protect their existing revenue). Yet it seems that shows are available for free, or cheap, legally. If shows are being gotten illegally then cableco's can simply apply std legal remedys. Its a different situation here in the uk, most people get their TV OTA free, for the cost of the licence fee (£141 per annum). ANd we are about to be unleashed with YouView a revoultionary mishmash of Tv and Web **endorsed** by the leading broadcasters, sometime Q2 2011.

MrAnderson said:

Cable should already be shifting services over to the Internet. Network television is on the decline. Time to start putting the heavy resources in moving data across the network. EVen if it is a multicast with rewind for TV and later on demand that would be cool. Pay perview's time has come, with exception of really big sporting events.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Let's i want to:

A.) watch cable TV with its constant advertising (including those annoying texts on the corner advertising an new show starting in a month...such as "Walking Dead / New Episode November 7" ...I DON'T CARE! I'M TRYING TO WATCH A MOVIE AND YOUR TEXT IS ANNOYING!!!......sorry


B.) watch internet TV with its limited advertising that doesn't have those annoying adverts

Gee...wonder which one I like better

VitaminC said:

Moving from non-hd comcast to HD FIOS has been awesome. But i really wish there was a-la-carte channel packages. They will probably go that route when they figure out how to screw the customer a d bit more like that cell companies have with there metered pricing.

Guest said:

I hardly ever watch Television anymore, only thing I do use a T.V. for is my Xbox 360 and PS3. Cable is on the decline, and the power is going to the web. I spend more time on my laptop watching movies, and television shows easily accessible via Netflix, and Hulu. Rest in Peace Cable and Satellite.

Guest said:

Watch sports (Hockey, Basketball, Football etc) for free on ADTHE.NET

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm not in the US, so the net isn't a real alternative to cable/satellite. I think that in the long term there will be adjustment, where net shows will cost more and have more ads, while cable will have to lower prices and provide more targeted selection.

peteyhawkins said:

I haven't had sky / virgin media for years, and will continue not to have it! Online tv is so much better for time constrained people.

DSparil said:

Nothing's good on cable so it isn't surprising that this will happen. Heck. I haven't watched TV for almost a decade.

Unfortunately, not everyone can watch TV broadcasts on the Internet without the jitters due to limitations in bandwidth, but there will come a time when all countries can achieve Korea and Japan speeds.

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I for one don't have cable or satellite i watch everything online thru netflix or the such cable and other services have become so overpriced who would pay for them nowadays with everything that is readily available on your computer or ps3?

akannitaoheed said:

What do you expect when you have such a reach bouquet available mostly free on the internet. These cable guys better devise new strategies and innovative services to sustain their businesses and retain their customer base.

Wildcatter said:

My only real option around here is time warner. I have to yell at them every other week but i get cable + internet for under 80.

AnonymousSurfer AnonymousSurfer said:

Was it the web? Or was it dish network... because I know that when I switched to dish that I'm never going back.

spyx said:

well DUH! the internet is both easier to acces and MUCH MUCH cheaper, Netflix is my choice and so far it is awesome I can pretty much watch anything on there

dlen said:

The issue is if the money from this switching goes to the same operator or different. In PL every cable operator provides internet so there is no difference in general if they provide slow internet + cable channels or fast internet and you get the TV from internet.

EDO219 said:

My dry loop dsl is $20 a month, and I'm told the slowest standalone comcast internet is $70 a month in my neighborhood.

Yikes! Where I live, my Comcast cable Internet is only $19.99 a month.

Currently, I am paying an additional $30 a month for Concast cable TV service, but I am unsubscribing this week. The only reason I would keep it would be for specific channels such as National Geographic and the Science channel. Both are blocked to me, so Comcast can say adieu to this customer!

Guest said:

This comes down to value. Cable keeps raising prices and offering less quality entertainment in return. You didn't have very many choices in tha matter. Now along comes services in which you can watch what you want, when you want it at a better price. This is a better value for a lot of people so they have made the switch.

As for me, I've been off of cable for years. I use this really cool wireless technology. You connect an antenna to your TV and wow, you actually get free TV. With digital; the pictures are great and you have more channels vs analog. It really is a great value.

windmill007 said:

Yeah nothing beats directv and DVR service. Sure you can get a lot over web but the convenience of DVR is awesome. But like cable they all keep raising rates. At some point it won't be worth it anymore. I'm sure GoogleTV or someone will offer what the Cable and Sat subscribers offer but at a cheaper price then u can say goodbye to cable and Sat or cheaper prices. I would welcome the cheaper prices!

TwiztidSef said:

I have pretty good internet at my house. I need to switch to netflix pretty soon. Running into a problem setting up the downstairs with a good system for this. May get Boxee or a descent laptop or something. But other than that, as soon as i have a system, I am switching to Netflix. I hear theres alot of good shows on it, and its pretty reliable.

My current cable consists of like 30 channels and several of those are actually duplicates. Really not worth what I am paying.

Demons said:

I haven't paid for cable in years. There is so little on worth watching these days. I'm totally fine with local HD and netflix. If there is something I really want to see on TV, there is Hulu as well as other sources online that I can use. I'm surprised the cable companies didn't see this trend coming.

Appzalien said:

The real problem with cable is its a sort of mini monopoly. In my municipality if I want cable I have to go with one company that has a deal with the city. It takes away any competition and allows them to put their prices way out of line. If the Government was doing their job, they would stop the insanity and force cable companies into competing for our business. If I could choose between Adelphia, Time Warner, Cox, Cable One or Comcast (Ohio cable), I'd bet the price for basic service would drop a little and premium would drop tremendously. But without competition we get screwed.

jazboy said:

I also believe that either cable company should bring their price down or start slowing shifting to web. I pay around $80 bugs per month and i am seriously thinking to shift to netflix. The only things i will loose is live news. that is the reason i am stick with Cable. I assume soon or late netflix , hulu or other company will come with solution for this too.

mesteele101 said:

I dumped my expanded cable service and now only have what they call Broadcast Cable (local channels only - $10 Month). The rest of what I watch is streamed from my PC to my TiVo and then watched. When I get the time I have an antenna that should bring in all the local stuff, including local HD. The cable companies are so arrogant! Let them rot in their own excrement!

TwiztidSef said:

Its really difficult to decrease the costs of cable. Most cable company's have to hire quite a few technicians and such to keep it running. The same could be said about the internet but its a different service. I think once you have a descent internet connection, then you might as well switch.

Its really too bad. Alot of people work for cable companies. If this continues, satellite offices may start shutting down and such.

freythman freythman said:

They're about to lose another. Calling tomorrow to turn it off

xcelofjkl said:

Cable is cheap where I'm from. I always work with my TV on. Even if I aint watching haha.

Guest said:

Cable and Satellite TV lose customers because they are too expensive in the first place, and they keep raising their price every year even though people are losing jobs and living on lower salaries. Rent and food prices also keep going up! Stop trying to take a bigger share of the shrinking pie, darn it!

It doesn't help that customers get locked into long term contracts, so there is nothing they can't just say "frak you" and walk away when the prices go up.

Don't blame Netflix: I've been a loyal Netflix subscriber for years, but I just ditched them, too. I resent being pressured to join their "streaming" revolution by the price raise on the dvd plan. I can't watch streaming movies on my computer: I play games there. Even if I had another window up for movies, it would make my games lag. I like watching movies on my large TV screen. For years I have ordered only 1 or 2 Netflix movies a month. I was not over-using the system. I could be watching movies in the theater for that money. But it was convenient, and I liked returning the movies in the mail instead of schlepping to the video store. But now Netflix has thrown away what made them great just to get in on all the "online" hype.

When everyone is paying more to support Netflix bandwidth, and another company steps in with the service customers used to go to Netflix for (DVDs), Netflix will probably go down in history as one of the biggest business follies ever.

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